Wanting what we can't have
Associate News Editor
We can't get enough of it. We want it every day and once we get a taste, we just want more. We get it around the clock — in the morning, afternoon and our big dose at night.
We'll never lose our urge for the news.
We thirst for knowledge. We devour it, digest it through our 24-hour news channels and tabloid magazines. We want to know as much as we can as soon as we can. We want to be the ones to shock our friends with what we've just seen on CNN or the Internet.
Our insatiable hunger for needing to know everything is making us forget the people behind the stories and those writing them.
We gawked and gaped at the first pictures of Princess Diana's tragic car accident, then admonished journalists for giving us the images.
It's ridiculous that every you-can-never-have-enough news channel broadcasted reporters standing in front of the Kennedy compound during the JFK, Jr. tragedy with nothing to report. But guess what — we all tuned in. We all stared at the ship carrying his ashes and the church where he was eulogized for hours. The channels saw some of their greatest ratings ever.
What I really want to know is, when is it too much?
Where is that line separating what we need to know and what we want to know? When does it stop being the truth, and turn into the truth according to the journalist?
In a perfect world, people would just know. There would be no need for reporters, writers or editors — information would just flow in and out of our lives like the wind. There would never be any question of privacy or ethics or stepping on toes.
But it's useless to want what you can't have.
For someone planning to enter the journalism world, these are disturbing thoughts. It makes my already-nervous mind wander to places I just don't want to go. I don't want to have to question myself about the next person I call or the next question I ask. I don't want people to judge me for writing a story some may find offensive.
It's a scary thing to have to worry what impact your job, your words, have on people. And frankly, I'm shaking in my proverbial boots.
Who wants to write a story about the tragedy of a student in a coma? Not me. Who, unfortunately, still has to make those calls? Me. Who could people possibly resent for it? Me.
Who gets to feel the guilt of still loving the job that brings all this responsibility? You guessed it.
It takes some major pride sucking to watch your friends go to interviews with acronym-named companies while you open your second internship rejection letter.
But the saddest part of all of this is knowing that you can't control it. You can't control what you want to do with your life, you just want it. You can't talk yourself into liking accounting or history if you've had your heart set on psychology. You can't make yourself love business lunches and $800 suits when your dream job entails chasing leads and staring at a computer.
In a perfect world, I would love something simple. I would enjoy doing something cut-and-dried, with no toes around to step on and no moral questions to answer.
But there I go, wanting what I can't have again.
The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Inside Stories for Friday, October 29, 1999